Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities: The Quest for Safe and Just Development on a Resilient Planet helps
students to explore and apply a range of emerging concepts within sustainability science. These concepts include: the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries, the social-ecological systems approach and resilience thinking. Such concepts are at the core of contemporary research and debates in the arena of global sustainability.
They are key to frame and understand rapidly changing trends in global environmental change caused by humans, and to assess responses that aim at addressing the consequences and impacts of these changes. They are also helpful in exploring pathways for ensuring safe and just human development for present and future generations.
A thriving global society, now and in the future, depends on the stable functioning of all interacting components of the Earth System – including; the atmosphere, oceans, forests, waterways, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles. Unfortunately, scientific evidence indicates that human influence has altered Earth System processes to a point that we have begun transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years.
Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, potentially propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. In this new situation, unsustainable patterns of production, consumption, and population growth are challenging the resilience of the planet to support human activity. The fundamental question is how our societies can develop in a just and safe way within the planet’s boundaries.